US synagogue shooting suspect charged with 44 counts

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – The suspect in a grisly anti-Semitic shooting at a Pennsylvania synagogue was charged in a 44-count indictment Wednesday, which includes federal hate crimes.

Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old truck driver from Baldwin, Pennsylvania, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to Saturday's devastating shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in which 11 victims were killed.

Bowers is suspected of using Glock .357 handguns and a Colt AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to carry out the tragedy. While inside the Jewish house of worship, Bowers allegedly said he wanted to "kill Jews," according to court documents.

The indictment charges Bowers with one count of obstructing the free exercise of religion resulting in death for each of the 11 people he killed. He also faces 11 charges of using a firearm to commit murder, two charges of using a dangerous weapon to injure a law enforcement officer and 11 counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence.

In addition to the 11 people who were killed on Saturday, two congregants were critically injured. Four law enforcement officers responding to the tragedy were injured.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "hatred and violence on the basis of religion can have no place in our society” in announcing the charges.

“Every American has the right to attend their house of worship in safety," he said in a statement. "These alleged crimes are incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation."

Prosecutors have indicated they plan to seek the death penalty for Bowers, but no official decision has been made.

Funerals are ongoing for the victims who were killed after beginning Tuesday.

Bowers also faces state charges including multiple counts each of criminal homicide, ethnic intimidation and aggravated assault.

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